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I sent my Gmail account a 53kB AMR sound file (about 1 minute of audio) from my phone and when it showed up in my Gmail inbox the attachment was a ~512kB WAV file (mono, 8-bit).  I checked my phone to make sure it hadn’t auto-converted the file before sending it and it says it didn’t.  This means Gmail could be a handy part of an AMR-to-podcast solution.  Besides its conversion and email gateway roles, it would serve as a handy data archive.

I’m getting the majority of my political news from the Meet The Press podcast and NPR.  This issue of the Florida and Michigan primaries, which were held early and without the blessing of the Democratic party, now needing to be counted since the Clinton/Obama race is so close.  MTP just played two quotes from Hillary Clinton, an earlier one dismissing the primaries, the current one saying that those voters were disenfranchised.  Let the “flip-flopper” name calling begin.  PA, please vote for a person whose opinions seem a bit more thoughtful and consistent: Barack Obama.

Scott and I recently started recording weekly “Zubritsky’s Corner” podcasts, both to talk about sports in general and to prepare for the third full season of the BDFL podcast. This week was a watershed moment in our podcasting history. After I suggested that Scott and I could greatly improve the quality of the ‘cast by having each of us record our side of the Skype call with separate mics at CD-quality and then mixing the results together, he quickly purchased a decent recording kit. After setting it up with Audacity and sending me a test WAV, we were all set.

I haven’t sung the praises of REAPER in a while. It’s software I purchased last year that’s been my main audio recording/editing tool ever since. I used it to record my side of last Friday’s conversation; the signal chain was my venerable Radio Shack mic plugging into my Mackie 1202-VLZ mixer, which was monitored by my M-Audio Audiophile 24/96 card. It was very easy to monitor my recording level in real-time with REAPER. Once we were done I saved out the new REAPER project. The next morning I received Scott’s recording and after about 15 minutes in REAPER I’d cut, cued, and panned our conversation. In another 15 minutes I’d pulled in our intro/outro music (Brad‘s “Look and Feel Years Younger”), spliced it in with fades, set all the channel levels and applied the excellent W1 Limiter to the mix. Then it was simple work to render the project as a FLAC and hand it off to Foobar 2000 for tagging and MP3 conversion. The results are here. Compare it to our podcast from the previous week. To my ears it’s a dramatic improvement. What do you think?

So Apple is apparently going after companies that use the terms “podcast” and “pod” (as it relates to podcasting) under the guise of trademark infringement. Sorry, but this doesn’t pass the smell test. “Podcast” was certainly inspired by the iPod, but it was genericized to imply “syndicated, auto-downloaded audio content” within its first year of use. I see Apple’s embrace of the vernacular when they integrated podcasts into the iTunes Music Store instead of calling them something like “iPodcasts” as an acceptance of this fact. Cool your jets, Apple lawyers.

Scott and I have been discussing the start of the upcoming Brutal Deluxe Football League podcast season and improvements we can make. I’m going to try to clean up the audio even more this season by making the recording less complicated. We’ll probably still use Skype, but probably only with the two of us, to try to keep levels in check. I’m going to do a little bit more in post-production as well. I dislike spoken-word podcasts where different speakers are at different levels, and I’m going to do my best to make sure my podcasts aren’t among them.

I’ll also avoid publishing the BDFL podcasts through more feeds than just the official BDFL website feeds. I don’t want us to waste bandwidth by publishing the same podcasts on my feeds. I will still post pointers to the episodes and encourage anyone interested in listening to subscribe to the BDFL website.

I’m also thinking about doing a little bit of underwriting this year, so that we can get a little bit back for the time that we spend producing the content. I estimate we will probably produce about 26 episodes at 40-60 minutes a piece. We’re thinking about making the show more formatted as well. Any suggestions in these areas?

Apple may have heard me and others when they implemented/fixed “Export Song List…” for podcasts in the new iTunes 6.0.3 release. It now allows the export of your subscription list in OPML format. Now they just need to complete the loop and allow importing of subscription lists.

The Airport Express combined with Podcasting and iTunes is enabling me to time-shift audio even more effortlessly. I’ve got the laptop fired up in the living room, browsing podcasts sitting on my upstairs PC. I’m listening to NPR’s weekly Technology podcast on the stereo in the family room while I’m doing chores.

I wanted to come up with a master copy of my podcast subscriptions that could be imported into any podcatcher I chose. My current podcatcher is iTunes. It doesn’t currently provide ways to import or export podcast subscriptions via OPML, the dialect that most podcatchers/aggregators use. I already had a “Podcasts” folder in my Bloglines account, so I updated that to reflect my current subscriptions. I’m already using the excellent MT-Outliner plugin to power my blogroll (based on the public contents of my “Blogs” folder in Bloglines). So I created a new MT template that generates an OPML file with my current podcast subs.

It validates against the OPML Validator (which is currently in beta), and I’ll be tweaking it as the aggregator subscription data interchange space matures. I haven’t tested it much yet, so if you decide to try it, please let me know where it does and doesn’t work. I know Doppler likes it, but Google Reader (which is beta) does not. Feedback is welcome.

iTunes does allow per-subscription imports/exports by dragging and dropping a podcast entries and PCAST files, but apparently the PCAST format is limited to one “channel”. I couldn’t aggregate podcast subs into a single PCAST file with multiple channel elements and get it to import more than the first feed. Here’s the template I made in case you’re interested. I think Apple should be a good sport and give iTunes OPML import/export capabilities for podcast subscriptions. They could continue to support PCAST as the point/click/drag/drop solution, and add OPML as the menu-selectable solution.

I’ve yet to fully listen to this podcast from CBC Radio 3 that Tim Bray pointed to, but I had to blog about it. It is the most impressively produced podcast I’ve seen anywhere, from a container perspective. They’ve made excellent use of bookmarks and multiple embedded images in the 128kbps AAC file they produced. This was the first bookmarked file I’d seen and used on the iPod Nano; when I first saw the little ticks on the progress bar I thought the darn thing was broken. 😉

I’ll comment on the content after I’ve had a chance to listen. These comments concern podcast #25.

Update (11/16): I’m listening to it this morning. This is some great music and a great format. Subscribe!

@aharden

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